Get Real About Sugar
Feel good and eat right—with pleasure!
Published: October 6, 2012
by Jorge Cruise
How to manage your health and your sweet tooth.
Fitness guru, Jorge Cruise, and women’s health expert, Dr. Christiane Northrup, met recently to talk about how we can enjoy good food and stay healthy without deprivation and dieting. Our love affair with sugar is threatening our wellness, but how can we give up the sweet stuff that pervades our food supply?
Christiane Northrup: Jorge’s work in his new book The Belly Fat Cure was an eye-opener for me. He points out that Americans are eating far too much sugar in ways that are hidden. He has focused on sugar in the diet in all forms—whether it’s alcohol, whether it’s candy, whether it’s cereal or bread. And guess what? The American Heart Association is now beginning to realize that it is sugar—and not fat—that is the problem in our diet.
Jorge Cruise: What we’ve been told as a society is that if you eat less and exercise more, you’ll lose weight and be healthy. So basically Americans are trying to do “The Biggest Loser”—doing extreme amounts of exercise and eating tiny portions that leave them feeling hungry. What science has shown, though, is that it’s all about insulin. It’s not about the calories themselves but about what kind of calories cause insulin to go up chronically. When you eat too much sugar, your insulin goes up and that’s what locks in belly fat. Dr. Northrup, you’ve been my mentor in revealing what sugar does beyond creating belly fat. Belly fat isn’t good because it destroys your self-esteem and self-confidence, but it truly is just an outside indicator of lack of health on the inside. As you have said, when you have chronic high insulin, you are also in danger for all of these other diseases—from cancer to heart disease to diabetes—let alone what it does to a woman’s hormones.
CN: Sugar wreaks hormonal havoc. You see women in their 40s at the gym, working their brains out and not losing a pound. But when you decrease sugar, you decrease insulin and finally stored fat can be burned when you add some protein to your diet.
JC: And healthy fat! We’ve got to have a diet that has lean protein and good healthy fat. My clients say, “Fat is going to make me fat.” They’re scared of eating butter or an egg yolk.
CN: Women are starved for healthy fat. Fat does not make you fat. Fat plus sugar makes you fat and goes right to your belly. We’ve been lowering the fat in food in recent years and people have gotten fatter and fatter.
JC: They cut out the fat so food has fewer calories. You have a product like fat-free yogurt, but it’s full of…
JC: I was an overweight kid—an emotional eater. Sugar for me was my comfort. Now I understand that sugar does numb pain. It’s a drug.
CN: Many women are taking antidepressant drugs to feel better. They are also eating sugar to feel better. Sugar is an opiate. So here’s the question—how do women get the sweetness of life? Because when you first talk about low sugar, people think that means no chocolate, no brownies—remember the chocolate center in the brain is the same as the sexual pleasure center in the brain in women. Diet has the word die in it. We all know diets don’t work.
JC: No, they don’t work at all. To make the Belly Fat program work, learn the secret of the carb swaps because this is what’s going to satisfy your sweet tooth so you don’t go crazy and can stop dieting. We are addicted to sugar so we need to satisfy that sensation. We’ve been very lucky in recent years. We have some safe and healthy sweeteners that allow us to enjoy food again. The sugar alcohols—such as xylitol, maltitol, and erythritol—are safe and were originally designed for diabetics. Stevia, the sweet herb from South America is also safe. The Belly Fat program is about swapping one carb for another. In today’s world, even bread, even certain meats can contain hidden sugar. The first step is to be aware of that, and look at everything you eat. Your goal is not more than 5 grams of sugar and 2 servings of carbohydrates per meal—starting with breakfast. It’s very important to eat breakfast.
CN: What you eat in the morning sets the blood sugar level for the next 24 hours.
JC: The key to the program is understanding that certain carbohydrate foods are too high in sugar and also too high in carbohydrates in general. By keeping your meals within what I call the 5/2—5 grams of sugar and 2 servings of carbohydrates (up to 20 grams each)—you will meet the carb swap ratio. It’s kind of like the combination that opens the lock to your health.
CN: And also opens the lock to start burning your belly fat.
Jorge Cruise is the author of 4 consecutive New York Times best-selling series, with more than 5 million books in print in over 15 languages.